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The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has ordered that all carnival activities be suspended by Sunday afternoon as Tropical Storm Beryl approaches the country.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves further ordered Saturday morning that flimsy temporary bars be dismantled in Kingstown and shipping containers removed from the tarmac at Arnos Vale. 

He said that Junior Panorama, slated for Sunday afternoon, in Kingstown, could proceed “because people are going to get home early. So that is fine.”

Gonsalves said that addressing carnival-related activities as the cyclone approaches is “a little bit more ticklish”, noting that events have been planned for later Saturday and Sunday.

“Today’s fine from the standpoint of the weather systems. In terms of the prediction, you have to look out for the rainfall and landslides and all of that,” he said in a national address at 11 a.m. Saturday in which he announced that a hurricane warning was in effect for SVG.

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He said BRAGSA, the state-owned general services agency, and other private sector entities have been mobilised to ensure that roads are cleared following the forecast passage of Hurricane Beryl on Monday.

“But you can have your carnival activities today. Open your bar,” the prime minister said.

He noted that private carnival activities have been planned for Sunday afternoon, including at the Tarmac of the decommissioned ET Joshua Airport at Arnos Vale.

“I know some activities from two o’clock on Sunday going up to the night. They tell you they’d stop at eight but they’ll go on to 10 and 12,” he said, adding that the promoter had pitched tents and placed shipping containers at the venue to ensure that patrons pay entrance fees.

“Now I want to say to you and I want you to listen to me carefully. I want you to help us with this and help yourself and help the people. Do not have any of these activities Sunday afternoon into Sunday night because you’re not going to be able to take down the tents, move everything including the containers,” Gonsalves said.

He said the experience in other Caribbean islands, including in Tortola and Anguilla, is that shipping containers become “dangerous weapons” in less than hurricane-force winds.

“And out at Arnos Vale, for instance, they will mash up the schools. Where you have an informal human settlement at Pole Yard, they will damage houses. And we can always rebuild houses but they can severely injure and kill people,” the prime minister said.

“… let’s help one another; let’s be cautious; let’s be careful. By the afternoon of tomorrow, just hold off on the fete,” he said.

The prime minister anticipated arguments that events would be confined to particular periods.

“But you’re not going to be able to move the potentially dangerous missiles and you and I know it ain’t going finish at 8. You may tell the police that. So, I’m asking you. I cannot allow selfish persons to do what they want,” Gonsalves said.

“Some of what I’m seeing here may not be popular. But I have to do what is right and proper. And I have to maintain safety for people, including people who will attend these places.

“If you’re going to do it, I’m telling you, the police is going to stop you. If you have your containers there already, make arrangements between today and tomorrow morning. Please move them to somewhere safe.”

He said he had asked the Port Authority, BRAGSA and the police to help us in enforcing the decision, adding that the Port Authority and BRAGSA can help to secure the containers.

“But you may have something very safe where you want to take your container. And if you’re a producer, you put it there, you have a responsibility and obligation, in fact, a legal obligation, and especially since I’m telling you about this, you can’t say you don’t know and you ought reasonably to know and appreciate what I’m saying.”

Gonsalves said the storm is likely to dump 4 to 6 inches of rain on Kingstown, noting that 2 inches of sustained rain normally floods the city. 

“…Kingstown is going to be flooded once this hurricane is on track,” he said, noting that Beryl is forecast to be a hurricane by the time it is expected to impact SVG.

“Don’t go and build any of these structures, you know these temporary structures which invariably are flimsy, don’t do anything until we see what happens up to Monday,” Gonsalves said, adding that the police will prevent people from doing so.

“There’s another storm coming in the back after Monday. Maybe it’ll take us even to Wednesday. Please don’t build any,” he said, referring to the temporary structures that people use as carnival bars.

“If you have built things which you know are not safe and secure, dismantle them,” the prime minister said, adding, “If you don’t, the Ministry of Urban Development will dismantle them.

“And as to the bars, unless things change, the course changes dramatically, we are not going to have anybody at those bars after nine o’clock tomorrow night in Kingstown.

“We have to have people safe,” Gonsalves said adding that while he likes to hang out at bars, he will not be visiting any after 6 p.m. Sunday.

At noon on Saturday, forecasters said occasionally cloudy skies, periods of light rain and pockets of moderate-heavy showers with thunderstorms are likely across SVG into the afternoon, as moisture trails a tropical wave.

“Residents and motorists in areas prone to flooding and landslides or near rivers and streams should exercise caution,” the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Meteorological Services said.

A temporary reduction in showers and thunderstorm activity is possible by mid-morning Sunday.

“However, Tropical Storm Beryl is strengthening and could approach our area as a category 1 or 2 hurricane by Monday. Another area of concern with a 60% chance of development could track near our area by Wednesday.”

SVG Met Services further said moderate to fresh (25 – 35km/h) breeze across the country could start increasing Sunday afternoon, as Beryl nears SVG and winds of hurricane (90 – 110km/h) strength are possible during Monday.

Sea conditions are slight to moderate in open water, ranging 0.5m – 1.0m west and 1m to 2m east of the islands, rising above 4m during Monday with hazardous seas.